Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Review - Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergren

Gabriella has never spent a summer in Italy like this one.

Remaining means giving up all she’s known and loved … and leaving means forfeiting what she’s come to know—and love itself.

Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives with their parents, famed Etruscan scholars, among the romantic hills. In Book One of the
River of Time series, Gabi and Lia are stuck among the rubble of medieval castles in rural Tuscany on yet another hot, boring, and dusty archeological site … until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.           

And thus she comes to be rescued by the knight-prince Marcello Falassi, who takes her back to his father’s castle—a castle Gabi has seen in ruins in another life. Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting. But what do you do when your knight in shining armor lives, literally, in a different world?

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I love my Austenesque fiction, but time travel novels are also a big draw for me.  Waterfall was a great way to start my 2012 reading.  Written from the perspective of Gabi Betarrini, a 17 year-old girl, Lisa T. Bergren’s first title in the River of Time series might not be penned with someone like me in mind, but I gobbled it up anyway!

Teenage sisters Gabi and Lia find themselves transported back in time, in a manner that I found entirely fantastical, but I was able to just go with the premise and enjoy the ride. While in 14th century Italy they encounter royalty, battles, political intrigue, castles to conquer and a bit of romance.  Gabi spends most of the book trying to find her sister, from whom she was separated when they made the jump back in time.  Gabi is beautiful, and she’s also a bit of a tomboy, so in that ancient time period, she was particularly noticeable to everyone around her.  She frequently had to change her manner of speaking, as the people in that society weren’t exactly using 21st century English.  As the daughter of archeology scholars, she often fell back on the education her parents had pushed on her over the years.

Gabi’s sister Lia is two years younger and also quite beautiful, and is as adept at archery as her sister is at swordplay.  The two of them make quite a pair as they fight to return to one another and to the time period from whence they came.  Other than getting back home, their other obstacle is Gabi’s attraction to the knight-prince Marcello Falassi.  He knows nothing of her true identity, has completely fallen for her, but it seems impossible that they could ever be truly together.

Waterfall was such a diverting read.  I liked Bergren’s characters and enjoyed the interplay between the warring factions.  The pages turned effortlessly, and it was simply a lot of fun.  I also appreciated the lack of foul language and sexual content, although there was plenty of excitement and romantic tension to go around.

Gabi also struggles with her religious faith a bit, sometimes questioning God’s existence and if He has some purpose in mind for her presence there in Italy. I wouldn’t necessarily call this work “Christian fiction”, as I think it can definitely be enjoyed by believers and non-believers alike, but this series would certainly suit Christians just fine.  The only time my sensibilities were tweaked a bit were occurrences when Gabi refers to attractive men as “hotties” and uses other slang that is common amongst teens today.  While the youthful voice of Gabi was sometimes a little irksome to this 40 year-old, I could see the effect that Bergren was trying to make and it was easy to gloss over.  The story is fabulous and so much more than a tale about and for teens.

I know little of that ancient time period, but Lisa Bergren has done her homework enough that I definitely felt transported myself.  Gabi’s time in ancient Italy certainly made me appreciate the creature comforts we have today—flushing toilets, electricity, modern medicine—not to mention our computers, smart phones and internet connections.

As I neared the end of Waterfall, I took comfort in the fact that this is just the start of the series.  I really didn’t want the story to end, honestly! Lisa T. Bergren has done a marvelous job, and I can’t wait to step into Cascade, the next book in the series.  Following that is Torrent, and coming later in 2012 is Tributary. There are so many fun books coming up on my TBR list in 2012, and I can’t wait to spend some more time riding down the River of Time with Gabi, Marcello and the rest!

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  1. Hurrah! So glad you finally dived into the River of Time...and I'm honored to be your first read of 2012. Hope you rejoin Gabi and Lia soon in CASCADE!

  2. Sounds really neat! I hope the rest of 2012's books are as good.

  3. Lisa: I can't wait for Cascade! I wish I could read it right now. But certainly soon.

    Marie: It was alot of fun. And the book I'm reading right now is also enjoyable-- it looks like I'm going to have 2 good ones to start off the year!

  4. Kick-butt sisters and a handsome knight? Sounds like my kind of read! Thanks for the review!

  5. Julie:

    Oh yeah! These ladies can hold their own, and Marcello is yummy. It's fun. Enjoy!



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